Padilla to PCO: Boost public awareness on WPS issue to counter fake news

Senator Robinhood Padilla has urged the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) to strengthen public awareness on the West Philippine Sea (WPS) issue in a bid to counter the threats from propaganda, misinformation, and fake news regarding the matter.

In filing Senate Resolution No. 864, Padilla urged Malacañang's communication arm to "communicate to the public in an understandable way" the relevant legal documents, international treaties, and bilateral and multilateral agreements on government's actions in the WPS.

"As the nation's security landscape continues to evolve, it is incumbent upon the PCO to provide clear, up-to-date and accurate information on matters of public concern relating to the security challenges confronting our country," Padilla, who chairs the Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media, said in his resolution.

"Coinciding with the seriousness of this issue is the risk of spreading propaganda, misinformation, and fake news with the advent of social media, which can greatly impact our pursuit of good governance and ultimately undermine democracy," he added.

Padilla noted the territorial claim in the West Philippine Sea issue remains a primary national interest in the Philippines, since the government's filing of an arbitration case against China under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in January 2013, which was ruled in favor of the Philippines in 2016.

Also, he pointed out President Marcos stressed in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) in 2022 and 2023 that the government will continue to uphold its sovereign rights and preserve territorial integrity in defense of rules-based international order.

On the other hand, he said Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez had noted in the aftermath of the Ayungin Shoal incident last August that the continuing tension between China and the Philippines over the WPS is "far more serious than how people perceive it is."

Under Padilla's resolution, the PCO is to communicate to the public various treaties and documents that served as the basis of the Philippines' policies and actions surrounding the territorial dispute in the WPS, including:

  • the UNCLOS
  • 2016 Arbitral Ruling
  • US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty
  • Reciprocal Access Agreement

"It is understood that matters that may have repercussions or may compromise the nation's defense and security are naturally excluded from any public information and awareness campaign," he added.